Thursday, May 31, 2007

Big bucks?

The new away kit was released today. I can't say that I'm overly impressed with it. The last white kit was much better.

Some interesting transfer rumours here. If these are to be believed then we're going to break the bank for Simao/Malouda, Tevez, Alves and Milito. I have to say that I can't see us spending that much money. I don't have any sort of inside info or source, just what I read on the net and that leads me to believe that we'll spend cash this summer but not £70m. Chris Bascombe in the Liverpool Echo today says that Sami is staying at the club. If Hyypia is staying then maybe that makes a move for Milito less likely. Bascombe is pretty reliable for getting the inside line from Anfield. He reckons that Tevez will be too expensive at £30m. I too doubt that Rafa would be willing to spend that much on one player.

The news that Rafa has been reassured after talks with the chairmen is satisfying. They seem quick off the mark to get in contact with Rafa when needed.

Our continued interest in young European talent shows no sign of finishing. This week we've signed Alexander Kacaniklic. He's a fifteen year old midfielder from Sweden and he impressed the staff after a twelve day trial in February.

Jerzey Dudek is set to leave the club shortly as he's out of contract. While it is definitely time for him to go, with Scott Carson waiting in the wings, he will be missed. He will be a legend for what he achieved in Istanbul, but has tarnished his reputation somewhat with a string of poor displays since then, notably the Carling and FA cup this season. But the character of the man can never be in doubt. Here he is at the end of the match in Athens, comforting a distraught Reina. I hope Jerzey goes on to do a good job elsewhere and has a happy twilight to his career.

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's all kicking off

The boardroom situation is reaching boiling point. By all accounts, Rafa has had enough of Rick Parry and his incompitence and indecisiveness. It now looks like he wants someone else to come in and do Parrys job with more authority to make quick decisions and sign off on players. Foster Gillett seems to be the man that will take the job but he is having work permit issues at the moment. Where this leaves Parry, I don't know. Rafa is on holidays this week and seems to think that it should be sorted out to some degree by the time he gets back. I hope he's right. He has said that we need to spend money now or else we'll only ever be contenders for third/fourth spot in the league. It seems that he has two deals lined up now that need signing off on to go through. These are rumoured to be Simao and Gabriel Milito. We've seen when Rafa was at Valencia that he walked when he didn't recieve the backing he needed. I fear that it might be the same situation here if he doesn't get what he wants. That would be an absolute disaster for the club.

In trasnfer news there's been a few bits and pieces. Bellamy wants his future sorted. I don't blame him but I do think he'll leave to go to one of Villa, Blackburn or West Ham. Marseille want to do a permenent deal on Cisse. I hope that we get a decent price for him. Momo isn't happy with his current status. As I've said before, I can see him being sold for the cash. Samuel Eto'o made some very positive comments about us over the weekend. If he does move, I can see us getting involved but I would imagine that he's more likely to stay at Barca and he'd be very expensive anyway. Florent Malouda seems to be an option for the left wing. Finally, we've signed two Hungarian kids, called Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon from MTK Hungaria. Nemeth is highly rated and played well in teh uefa u-17 competition last year.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Carlitos considers

Possibly great news from Javier. Now is the time for Hicks and Gillett to put their money where their mouths are and buy Tevez. He would be awesome for us. Anyone who's seen him play for West Ham this year can see that he's a star in the making.
The news that Xabi is going nowhere is a much needed boost after the low of Wed night. Does this mean that Momo is likely to be sold to Juve or Barca? We are really strong in midfield with Lucas coming in. If Rafa is to sell someone I assume it'll be Momo.
The BBC thinks that Rafa has been offered cash for Owen. I'd be quite surprised if it happened given his injury history and wages.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A bridge too far

I was hoping that I'd be writing about "the joy of six" today. Alas it's "seventh heaven" for AC Milan. But I don't feel devestated. We gave it everything we had but it wasn't enough and luck was against us. These things happen in football. We lost 2-1 having put on a really good display. It's not like we were spanked 3-0.

The first half was great and we played some good stuff. Pennant in particular pinned Jankulovski back on our right wing. Rafa wanted us to go at them from the off. We were in the ascendency and had a few chances. Unfortunately, as has been the case many times this season, we couldn't make it count and failed to put any of the chances away. But the Inzaghi goal was devestating. It was a bad position to give away a free but Pepe had it covered until it took a deflection off Inzaghi's arm. 1-0 down at half time after dominating the half. Sickening. Inzaghi scored again in the second half after recieving a pass from Kaka. Milan were much better after the break, they play well when they have the lead. Crouch came on and did alright but the ref penalised him for being tall. Kuyt scored at the death but it wasn't enough. The ref blew up early but it probably wouldn't have mattered. Milan took their chances, we didn't. At least we got a good match with some good football, unlike the FA Cup final last Saturday. John Giles described it as "enthralling from start to finish".

Javier Alejandro Mascherano was brilliant. Man of the match for me. Kaka had very little influence on the game until the chief was taken off. He might have stayed on and closed Kaka down for the second goal if he hadn't been booked.

The papers are full of players on the way out today. We know that Robbie, Jerzey and Bolo are on their way as they're all out of contract. It now looks like Mark Gonzalez is on his way to Real Betis. I feel a bit sorry for the lad but it didn't seem to be working for him here. He had a few decent games but by and large was underwhealming. I had high hopes for him coming into the season as he was incredible for Sociedad in Spain last year. Sometimes players don't fit in or adapt here and Mark could be a case in point. I hope we get a good fee for him, rumoured to be £5m+, and that he does well for Betis.

So where do we go from here? It's clear that we need more talent in attack. Left wing is a problem position. Kewell is injured too often, Garcia is great in europe but not as effective in the league and isn't a real winger anyway. Aurelio started to look really good before he got injured but he has a bad history of injuries too. Leto is coming in but I don't know if he'll be ready for first team football. I think we're ok on the right wing given that we've Pennant who had a great second half of the season. Gerrard can also play there and do a good job. It looks like Bellemy will be sold although this hasn't been confirmed. I'm hoping that we invest in a top striker. I'd love Tevez or Villa but I don't know if either is likely. I'm sure we'll have a summer full of speculation. I hope that Rafa doesn't sell us all a dummy and sign Darren Bent.

I won't be doing as many posts over the summer as there are no matches. I'll try to do a roundup of transfer news every so often and might do profiles of some players. Onwards and upwards.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Pre match tension is starting to kick in. The only team news to have arrived recently is that Zenden is a doubt. This means that Harry Kewell could well start. Some might greet that with sighs but Kewell is a far superior player so I don't have a problem with it. Whoever is our best available XI should be picked in my view. Maldini remains a doubt for Milan so Kaladze may fill in again as he did in the last match.
Have a look at this flag that my mate Ron is bringing to Athens.

Enjoy the match, wherever you watch it. By the next post, five should have become six.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

God bows out

Anfield's last game of the season was a bit of a party. It wasn't the most amazing game but there were two goals from us and it wasn't a defeat, unlike our last few league games. Plus there is the small bonus that it means we stay ahead of Arsenal and finish third.

The big news of the match that it was Robbie's last hurrah at Anfield. Rafa subbed him off with a minute of normal time remaining which enabled Robbie to get a standing ovation from the fans. Unfortunately it meant that he couldn't score the penalty we were awarded a minute later. Harry put it away for his first goal of the season. Robbie is a red legend of the highest order but everyone can see that he can't cut it at this level anymore. I'm going to do a separate blog entry about him over the next week or two.

So out with the old and in with the new. The new in this case is Lucas. This is one to get excited about. He's the Brazilian under twenty captain, a central midfielder and was voted player of the year in Brazil last season. This deal seems to be agreed and he'll join us in July after the copa Libertadores. The fee is rumoured to be around £5m or so. Rafa has said that he tried to compete for top class young signings like Denilson and Walcott at Arsenal but was financially unable. Hopefully this means that the Hicks and Gillett investment is starting to pay off.

We're also being linked with Alexandre Pato. "The Duck" is an eighteen year old Brazilian striker and is being tipped for greatness. I would be surprised if this happens but we are interested in him apparently. Check out the mad skillz.

With Athens not far away, it reminded me of this quote from Cruyff. "There's not one club in Europe with an anthem like You'll Never Walk Alone. There's not one club in the world so united with the fans. I sat there watching the Liverpool fans and they sent shivers down my spine. A mass of 40,000 people became one force behind their team. That's something not many teams have. For that I admire Liverpool more than anything." Dutch legend Johan Cruyff after Istanbul. Only eight days to go. Good video on the chelsea match using an audio montage from radio merseyside.

I was in Barcelona at the weekend and we visited Camp Nou for the Barcelona v Betis game. Good match even though it finished 1-1. Barca scored early and played some great stuff in the first half and could have easily been 2-0 or 3-0 at half time. But Betis came back into it and scored in the last few minutes. The locals got restless and the white hankies/sheets of newspaper came out which added to the entertainment. I hope that Barcelona can turn it around but it's not looking good considering their form and Madrid are now top of the league.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Cottage capitulation

Fairplay Fulham. We had a lot of chances but as has happened so often this season away from home, we failed to convert them. Fulham kept at it and managed to take their chance when Clint Dempsey scored in the second half. As with the Portsmouth match last week, we played the B team and there weren't able to make their dominence count. Belllamy had a good few chances where he was through on Niemi but couldn't finish them. The feeling now seems to be that Craig will be on his way in the summer. I don't know for definite but it does look like he'll go if we can buy a top class replacement. He's done well for us at times and we should get a good price for him but I do wonder if he's consistent enough for us at this level and he does have his off the field issues.

Chalton visit Anfield on Sunday in what is now a meaningless game as they've been relegated. We won't be killing ourselves but we've a good home record this season so it'll be good not to lose that. Dudek is looking to start this match as it'll be his last at Anfield. He's out of contract this summer and wants a chance to say goodbye to the fans. Dudek will always be a Liverpool legend for his heroics in Istanbul but he's looked increasingly erratic whenever he's come into the team since then and he's on a significant wage so I'm not unhappy to see him leave. It'll be interesting to see what happens with Carson next season.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Some teams make headlines - others make history

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed

This is a place I'll always remember. It happened two years ago, but yet again, the glory of Liverpool can be reborn in three weeks time. I can't speak, I barely slept, but I don't care.

To those of you who criticised D Agger after last week, I present exhibit A. I don't think that Sami would have done any better against Drogba last week as Drogba has destroyed him at Anfield before. I know that Rafa doesn't like to single out individuals but Agger, hero no.1, deserves to take a bow. He recovered from a tough night last week and was immense last night. The goal was one straight off the training ground and was as sweet a strike as you'll see. For me, he's the best young defender in the league.

For all of those who ridiculed Zenden, me included, hang your heads in shame. Over the two legs, he's really stepped up to the plate. He's not the best player and he knows it. He was only brought in as a squad player but when injuries strike as we have at the moment with Kewell, Garcia and Aurelio all injured on the left wing, then you need the squad players to fill the breach. Bolo did his bit. Some of his crossing was poor last week but he did better last night when he had Crouch to aim for. When it came to the penalties he stood up and took the first strike. Bolo's off in the summer but he'll leave some good memories behind. When we won two years ago we had squad players who stept up and played beyond themselves during the run to the final like Biscan, Traore and Smicer. Maybe Bolo is that player this time.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - put your hands up for Dirk Kuyt. Ran himself into the ground, linked well and lead from the front. He was really unlucky to hit the bar with a header and scored a legitimate goal in extra time that was disallowed for no reason. Then he stepped up and scored his penalty. He loves this city, and it loves him.

Pennant take a bow. I've talked a lot about Jermaine on the blog. Since January, he's been fantastic. He a confidence player and he's now showing what he can do when he's on top of his game. He ran Cole ragged last night and put over some amazing crosses. Crouch was unlucky to see Cech save his header from one of them. I expect Pennant to build upon this form next season.

Pepe proved that he's the penalty master. He saved from Geremi and Robben to mean that Dirk could win it for us. Cech is the best keeper in England but I don't think Pepe is far off him.

Stevie hasn't had a great season by his own standards but he was world class last night. He took shots, made crunching tackles and passed sublimely. Probably his best game this year so far. Who says that he doesn't produce in the big games? Hopefully he'll show more of the same in the final. Where was Lampard? Javier alongside him was also amazing. I hope that if he hasn't been signed on a permanent deal already, that it's tied up during the summer.

Rafa is a Buddhist. His cross legged seat for the penalties was in stark contrast to Jose and his fist pumping antics. Rafa is Zen. He is also uncannily prophetic. Jose may now be finished in England. Rafa is only just getting going.

Fulham on Sat will be a real anti-climax after this. All thoughts will be on the final in three weeks. I've already booked the day after off work. I don't care who wins tonight as I think we can beat either team. Obviously it would be even sweeter to beat the mancs. Bring it on.

Nights like last night are what we, as fans, live for. Liverpool and Anfield have served up a feast for the soul. I'll think about it often.

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more